What is it like to drive an electric car?

Explainer

Intro

​We know that electric cars can save us money, help reduce air pollution and have less moving parts to go wrong. But what a lot of prospective owners don’t always realise is that electric cars are incredibly easy and fun to drive.​

Let’s start with the easy part. There's no gearstick to waggle around and no clutch to give your left leg a good workout and make you stall at a roundabout.

All you have is a selector to choose between going forwards or backwards. And for the times that you’re not doing either of those things, you can select ‘park’.

Like an automatic, there are two pedals, accelerator and brake. The one that delivers the most entertainment is, of course, the one on the right.

Unlike a petrol or diesel car, electric cars deliver full power the second you press the accelerator. Which makes them feel way faster than their power outputs suggest.

So, if your first experience of an electric car is driving away from a dealer forecourt - just take it easy okay?

You’ll also find that it feels a lot more secure to drive, and that’s because the battery pack is right below the seats which keeps the centre of gravity very low. It’s a bit like those heavy bases you use on a parasol in your garden to stop them falling over.

So what else is different? Electric cars have what’s called regenerative braking which means that you’ll probably use the brake pedal far less than you would before.

It sounds complicated, but trust me, it’s not. When you’re slowing down and take your foot off the accelerator, the electric motor performs a bit of a party trick. Instead of sending power from the battery to the wheels, it sends power from the wheels back to the battery to give you more range.

It soon feels normal and is one of our favourite parts of electric driving. When you take your foot off the accelerator, the car slows down as if you’ve put your foot gently on the brakes. It can feel a little odd at first, but once you get used to it and realise that every time it happens you’re putting power back into your battery, it does get a bit addictive!

Some new electric cars will even adjust the level of regen braking automatically, using GPS data and radar to work out when you might want to slow down and putting power back into the battery in the most efficient way.

Frugal, fast and fun - another reason you won’t want to go back to a petrol!

​​Download our Beginners' Guide to Going Electric, produced with the Department for Transport.

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